KABUL, Afghanistan — As the United States prepares to withdraw its combat troops from Afghanistan, it has a significant problem: Kids are graduating from kindergarten with a new set of challenges and needs, and they’re not graduating in a manner that is conducive to their long-term well-being.
That’s the finding of a new study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
The report, published Wednesday, found that the number of preschool-aged children graduating in 2017 from a K-12 program that had been focused on helping children to develop an independent thinking and critical thinking skills has plummeted to around 15 percent from nearly 50 percent in the past five years.
“It is a very worrisome time for schools and programs,” said Dr. Andrew J. Sommers, the study’s lead author and a fellow at the institute.
“The number of students graduating is falling by about a quarter every year.”
Kindergarden’s graduation rate has dropped to less than 4 percent from around 5 percent in 2016.
The institute’s study of more than 2,000 preschool-age children from 20 countries was conducted in May and June in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United State will end its combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of the year.
In a statement announcing the plan, the White House said the U.S. will withdraw all troops by the December 31 deadline, though the withdrawal will not include the 9,800 troops who will remain in the country.
The U.N. says the troop presence will last until 2025, which is in line with Trump’s plan.
The institute’s report found that as many as a quarter of children in a program that helped prepare them for kindergarten in 2017 had not yet graduated.
In 2017, almost three-quarters of children were in a preschool program that included instruction in critical thinking, reading, math, social studies, science and geography, according to the report.
“A lot of the program was focused on what they call ‘critical thinking,’ which is thinking in a specific way to help children to better understand the world and their role in it,” said Sommes, who is based in New York.
“And the idea was to encourage students to explore different aspects of their world in the hopes of helping them grow into their own independent thinkers.”
The report found about a third of children did not have any formal schooling, either.
About 30 percent of children who received kindergarten instruction from preschoolers had completed high school by the age of three, the report found.
The other 20 percent had not attended school for at least one year.
About two-thirds of the children who graduated from the program had attended a preschool for at or below grade school.
About a quarter had attended an elementary school.
Children in the program who were enrolled in pre-kindergartens for two years or more had the highest graduation rates, at 71 percent.
In the study, children who attended kindergarten programs that were designed to prepare them to work as teachers had a graduation rate of 62 percent, compared with only 30 percent in a classroom setting.
Sommers said that while preschoolers often see a difference between an academic environment and one that has been focused solely on teaching and learning, the results are often the same.
“There is a difference,” he said.
“They’re not going to see the difference between the two.”
A study by Columbia University researchers earlier this year found that while students’ scores on the Common Core State Standards in reading, mathematics, science, reading and writing improved as they got older, their test scores fell sharply as they moved into elementary and middle school.
The findings, in an article published in the journal Learning and Learning Disorders, showed that preschoolers who had been preparing to work in schools before they graduated had a significantly higher level of achievement, but those who did not had a worse level of education.
A new report released by the Institute for American Education, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., suggests that the lack of high school graduation rates in the U